Gas Free Seneca files appeal
SENECA LAKE--The Gas Free Seneca coalition filed an appeal in November to a ruling by the Department of Environmental Conservation's chief administrative law judge. The coalition of Finger Lakes residents and business owners also separately renewed its call for Gov. Cuomo and DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos to step in and reject permitting the proposal, which threatens surrounding communities--including 100,000 residents who rely on Seneca Lake for drinking water--and the region's wine and tourism industries.
Gas Free Seneca's appeal notes none of the propane stored in Crestwood's proposed Seneca Lake facility would heat local homes or businesses. The unlined salt caverns along Seneca Lake were never engineered for storage, yet Crestwood has proposed storing up to 40 million barrels of propane. By Crestwood's own admission, the proposal will create three to five permanent jobs for the area.
"This appeal and countless other documents we have submitted to the record over the course of this fight, show that this project is completely unnecessary and would threaten the wine and tourism economy that Gov. Cuomo has invested millions of dollars to support," said Joseph Campbell, president of Gas Free Seneca. "Crestwood has advertised that its new facility in Montgomery is 'sufficient to serve the entire northeast in the coldest winter,' and is expanding LPG storage in Savona. There is no need for the facility on Seneca Lake and the salt caverns there were never designed to store this type of substance. Any breach would be catastrophic for the local communities and economy. We urge Gov. Cuomo and Commissioner Seggos to do the right thing for the Finger Lakes and deny this permit."
In its appeal, Gas Free Seneca maintains Crestwood has not met the basic requirements for permitting of underground gas storage at the site. The appeal highlights problems with the caverns that make them not "adaptable for storage purposes." The project therefore would pose an unacceptable risk to public safety, community character, and the burgeoning wine and tourism industries of the Finger Lakes that cannot be mitigated, the group says.
"The fundamental question Gov. Cuomo and Commissioner Seggos must ask themselves is this: Why risk the health and safety of residents, the natural splendor of the region and the Finger Lakes brand for dangerous, dirty, and completely unnecessary fossil-fuel storage?" said Yvonne Taylor, vice president of Gas Free Seneca. "There is absolutely nothing about this proposal that makes it worth the risk. We call on the commissioner to reject it."
Tourism in the Finger Lakes supports more than 59,000 jobs and generates $2.9 billion annually for the region. Cuomo's 2018 budget includes $16.5 million to further expand and enhance tourism and economic development in the Finger Lakes.
"Gov. Cuomo can help us continue to build on our success story," said Kim Aliperti of Billsboro Winery, winner of the 2016 Governor's Cup. "He did the right thing with the moratorium on fracked gas, protecting residents and communities. Now, he has an opportunity to cement his economic and environmental legacy in Finger Lakes wine country, by working with Commissioner Seggos to reject dangerous industrial gas storage on the shores of Lake Seneca."
Crestwood's Seneca Lake industrial LPG storage plan is opposed by more than 450 Seneca Lake property owners, 500 local businesses and 32 municipalities representing 1.2 million New Yorkers.